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Kraft questions wisdom of Mario deal

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was a guest on the CNBC talk show "Squawk Box" this morning and expressed doubts about the wisdom of the deal the Buffalo Bills gave to defensive end Mario Williams on Thursday. Kraft and Houston owner Bob McNair both were guests on the segment, and Kraft was showing some sympathy for his fellow owner, who lost Williams in free agency.

Said Kraft: “The point is when someone goes out and pays him $15 million, if you paid him that, your team doesn't get better when you do that. I would say your team maybe gets worse because you have less money available for other players. And only your personnel people understand the chemistry of how that works. And sometimes our fans get upset. We're faced with a couple decisions like that, too. And both you and I want to see our teams win. That's how we manage the resources available to us that allows us to do that.”

(Shout-out to Thurman Thomas, whose tweet this morning alerted Bills followers to the segment.)

---Mark Gaughan

Nix: We're probably not in the WR business

Bills General Manager Buddy Nix reiterated today when he said about the receiver position during the Mario Williams news conference on Thursday. Despite their pursuit Tuesday of free-agent Robert Meachem, Buffalo is not planning to go after another free-agent wideout. Nix was interviewed on ProFootballTalk.com Live.

"Once we signed Steve Johsnon, we felt pretty good about our receivers," Nix told host Mike Florio. "Everybody thinks we need (one). And I've said it. That's why they think it I guess, that we need a speed guy on the outside. But we've got some guys. We've got nine receivers right now that are under contract that we think can fill that role. So we're probably not in the wide receiver business."

For the record, those nine receivers are: Johnson, David Nelson, Donald Jones, Marcus Easley, Brad Smith, Naaman Roosevelt, David Clowney, Ruvell Martin and Kamar Aiken. The two fastest in the 40-yard dash are Clowney, the former New York Jet, who ran a 4.36 coming out of college, and Easley, who ran 4.39.

Asked at what moment during Mario Wiliams' visit did he think the Bills were certain to close the deal, Nix said: "When he called me about 8:30 Wednesday night and said, 'We found a house we like.' So i figured if they're house shopping and found a house, we had a pretty good chance."

Nix also acknowledged what Bills fans felt about the prospect of not closing the deal with Williams: "Everybody had one focus, and that was to get him here. I shudder to think, really, what would have happened had we not gotten him. We all made that kind of effort and then if we hadn't I don't know. I tried not to think about it during the process. But I think it would have been a big blow against us if that had happened."

---Mark Gaughan

Nix's explanation on Meachem deal

In case you missed it, here was the explanation Bills General Manager Buddy Nix had on his pursuit of free-agent receiver Robert Meachem, who took a bigger offer to sign with San Diego while he was on his visit to Buffalo.

Said Nix: "We bring in a lot of people. But I’m going to say this again, our No. 1 goal was to sign Mario. That was our No. 1 need and our No. 1 goal. We felt like it was something we had to have. We like Robert, and we think he’s a good player. We have good receivers, and there are a lot of them out there. I actually got a call in the middle of the night and they said, "He’s (Robert’s) been offered this.' We said good luck; it’s really good for him."

Reports say Meachem got a four-year deal worth an average of $6.475 million. The Bills gave Stevie Johnson a five-year deal worth an average of $7.25 million.

---Mark Gaughan

Road to the Draft: Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
6-foot-5, 265 pounds
Draft projection: Late first, early second round

Lowdown: Jones has an ideal frame and has an intriguing power-and-speed combination as a prototypical 4-3 defensive end. He left college a year early, and his junior season was cut short by a knee injury. That complicates the evaluation. He had 4.5 sacks in seven games last fall. He missed five games with a knee injury suffered in the season opener. As a red-shirt sophomore in 2010, he played all 13 games and had four sacks. His timed speed in the 40-yard dash (4.87 seconds) was only OK. His vertical jump (35 inches) was good. tied for fourth among defensive ends. Given his inexperience, he has plenty of room to get better.

Big Brothers: Jones’ oldest brother, Arthur, was a fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2010 out of Syracuse. Arthur Jones is a 300-pound defensive tackle. The middle Jones brother, Jon, is light heavyweight title holder of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Jon Jones was a national junior college wrestling champion before dropping out of college to begin his mixed martial arts career. He has held the title the past year and will defend his title next month against Rahsad Evans.

Quoteable: Chandler Jones says he frequently is asked who is the best athlete of the three Jones brothers: “To be honest with you, every team I met with asked me," he told reporters at the SU pro-day workout. “I would say that I would win, but Jon's the toughest.”

Booster: ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is a fan of Chandler's. Said McShay on a national conference call with reporters: "I think he has untapped potential. At 260 pounds, 6-5, he’s very smooth-moving, showas a lot of upside. He can continue to improve his hands and do a better job against the run. But he’s versatile. He can put his handin the dirt. His instincts his motor his pass rushing potential is what stands out. If he gets a clear bill of health, I think he’ll move up the board. When he was healthy, and you look at the production - 109 tackles in the 15 games he played over two years. He did have the one injury, but its not like he’s been constantly injured or he wasn’t producing when he wasn’t injured."

---Mark Gaughan

Video: Gaughan analyzes impact of signing Williams

The News' Bills beat reporter, Mark Gaughan, weighs in on what impact the addition of Mario Williams will have on the Bills' defense:

Video: Williams addresses media after signing

Pass rusher Mario Williams met with the media Wednesday after signing with the Bills. And he had good things to say about his new city:

Live video, blog: Bills, Williams meet with media

Mario Williams and Bills officials will with the media around 1:45 p.m. to discuss Williams' signing with the team. Follow the news conference below:

Bills land Super Mario (updated)

The biggest free-agent acquisition in Buffalo Bills history is a reality.

The Bills have an agreement with Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams on a six-year contract, a source close to the negotiations told The News. Another source said the contract includes $50 million in guaranteed money. ESPN reports the overall package is worth up to $100 million.

The deal makes Williams the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history and caps an intensive recruiting effort that lasted about 44 hours. Williams' contract eclipses the deal Chicago gave to Julius Peppers two years ago. That one included $42 million in guaranteed money and was worth $91.5 million. Peppers' contract averages $15.25 million. Williams' deal will surpass that. The Bills have scheduled a 1:45 p.m. news conference.

Williams, 27, gives the Bills their most accomplished pass rusher since Bruce Smith left the team after the 2000 season. Williams, 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, has 53 sacks over 5 1-3 seasons as a pro.

Williams flew his fiance into town at midday Wednesday. The two wanted to scout out housing in Western New York before agreeing to any deal, a source told The News.

The deal is a milestone in the 52-year history of the Bills. In the 20 years the NFL has used an unrestricted free-agent system, the biggest Buffalo signing was a $7 million-a-year deal given to guard Derrick Dockery in 2007. That move flamed out, as Dockery lasted only two seasons in Buffalo. Williams comes to the Bills with a far superior pedigree and track record.

Before the free-agency era, the Bills’ highest-profile acquisition outside of the draft was a 1987 trade for star linebacker Cornelius Bennett that included three teams, three players and three draft picks. Bennett was the No. 2 pick of the draft that year. While his five-year, $3.5 million contract was big at the time, it didn’t make him the highest-paid defensive player in the league. He also didn’t hit town as the best player at his position in the league.

That’s the reputation Williams brings. The Bills are counting on Williams to be the key piece in the rehabilitation of their defense, which ranked 26th last season.

Williams has the ability to dominate games. He was the first overall pick in the 2006 draft out of North Carolina State. He’s coming off an injury-shortened season in which he played only the first five games (and had five sacks). He went on the injured-reserve list for the rest of the year with a torn pectoral muscle, which is healed.

Williams had 14 sacks in 2007, 12 in 2008, nine in 2009 and 8.5 in 2010. Houston would have loved to retain him, but the Texans entered free agency with only about $1 million in space under the salary cap and had no chance to strike a deal. 

The Bills have two high-quality defensive tackles in Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. Adding Williams to the right end spot would give them a potentially dominant defensive front. Veteran Chris Kelsay is the returning starter at left defensive end. The Bills are hoping linebacker Shawne Merriman can recover from an Achilles tendon injury and be a situational pass rusher. They are likely to add a pass-rush prospect in the draft, as well.

Williams was back at One Bills Drive this morning after spending an second night in Western New York.

---Mark Gaughan

 

Audio: Update from Bucky Gleason at One Bills Drive


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Williams talks nearing conclusion

The Bills remain locked in intense negotiations to close the deal on free-agent pass rusher Mario Williams. A source says the deal is close to being done. ESPN reports the Bills are working on satisfying another  condition of Williams to complete the contract.

If the deal broke down now at the 11th hour and 59th minute, it would be a crushing blow to the Bills. But the fact Williams returned to One Bills Drive and is continuing to hammer out the final pieces of the contract shows the Bills have a great opportunity to close what would be the biggest player acquisition - outside of the draft - in team history.

---Mark Gaughan

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